Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott. AAP

Policies to move people into regions fall off Abbott's radar

TWO out of three key policies that could help bring more people from the city to regional areas have already been taken off the Abbott government's agenda.

A report from the Productivity Commission released on Tuesday on geographic mobility highlighted three policy changes which could help attract workers to regional Australia.

It found abolishing state government stamp duty fees, increasing the supply of affordable housing and making progress on a national trades licensing system could help.

But while the Abbott Government does not control stamp duty, the Commonwealth is unlikely to make any progress on the two other key recommendations in the near future.

On coming to office last year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott abolished the National Housing Supply Council, and despite pressure from the community sector, the government has not replaced the council.

Bringing further weight to the government's arguments against action on housing affordability, particularly in regional areas, was last week's Commission of Audit report.

That report, which looked at state-federal relations, specifically recommended that housing affordability remain a state government responsibility.

It further recommended the Commonwealth limit its role in housing supply and homelessness issues to "providing rent assistance for income support recipients".

Mr Abbott also took the Productivity Commission's third proposal, to take action on a national trades licensing system, off the table at his first COAG meeting last year.

He said at the time differing views by different states meant the progress on the proposal was not a priority, to "manage the disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority".

The PC also found that incentive payments, such as the $6000 payments the government has proposed to help long-term unemployed to move to regional areas, had limited benefit.

Its report noted some positive benefits from such payments, but that it was not a comprehensive solution.

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